LUPUS is real and the impact it has on people is huge. However one will not know they have the disease if they do not know what it is.
Reeanna Harrilal, president and founder of the Voice of Lupus Foundation and a lupus survivor, said she started the foundation in 2010 to give lupus a voice in TT.
“I just wanted to change one person’s life. The organisation is eight years old and we have been able to help over 800 people. My mission is a Journey to a Thousand.
“There is that reality that you must face when you have a chronic debilitating illness that any day you might die. Living in pain is not easy. Living with challenges is not easy, but you don’t make it an excuse. We get up and we fight in spite of adversities,” she told the Newsday during the commemoration of World Lupus Day held on Thursday on the Brian Lara Promenade, Port of Spain.
Thursday was their public information day where they informed people about the disease and its effects.
“There are no boundaries for who can be affected with lupus – no gender, race, age or ethnicity. We invited the diabetes association to come and provide screening because there is a link between lupus and diabetes.
“A lot of lupus patients develop diabetes because of the steroids they use for treatment. Lupus can also affect the pancreas,” Harrilal said.
She said the 100 candles they lit represented the patients, for them to know that they themselves must be the light, even those who had passed away.
“It was our way of honouring them and their ability to endure. It was to show them even in illness, they can still be a force to be reckoned with. I live with it every day. Look at my foot,” raising her pant leg to show her swollen feet.
“It is painful to move around but I got up, I put on my make-up, I’m smiling. I try to be very positive and happy,” she said.